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Jazz hollow body research

Steady

Member
Messages
107
So I've made some noise about wanting a PRS HBII because I've played a couple and they're freeken butter, ya hear me? BUTTER. They're also $4000 and up (way up). I could afford it, but it would behoove me to check out other options. I did play a Maton BB1200JH which was actually very nice and priced at about the 3k mark, but I think they were hiding a brick inside - it was unusually heavy for a hollow body, and a bit bland in appearance (not that that's a bad thing, I dig a low-key guitar). But I'm wondering if there are others I should try out before shelling out the dough for a PRS and resigning myself to fanboyhood. (and I'll stop buying guitars for a while)
So - I submit myself to the collective wisdom of the forum for options of premium-ish hollowbody guitars to try.
Best suggestions would be <$4000, and available in the D/FW area for an intimate meeting.
Poor suggestions would be anything mail-order, or custom orders (I've thought about a Kiesel SH550, but I would spec it up to about $2500-2700 and I'm not ready to go out on that limb at this point) and unicorns that can't be found (I'd love to try the premium Ibanez or Yamaha hollowbodies, but I've never seen one in the flesh).
Also, I'm not too interested in Gibson's, but I should probably try a nice 335 for the sake of due diligence. Most of the really nice Gibson's are way more than $4k anyways, I think.
Anyways, let me know if I'm overlooking any gems and I'll do my best to check 'em out.
 

Duffy Pratt

Member
Messages
2,887
PRS is different from most hollow bodies And I think there is some sort of block under the bridge so that they are not truly hollow. In your price range, check out Eastman, D’Angelico, Godin. You might find a used Sadowsky, a Comins GCS, a used Heritage or Peerless. Trouble is actually finding samples to try. Here in Houston, there are almost none to be found. Don’t know about DFW.

BTW, a 335 is not hollow. If you can find a 330...
 

Benz2112

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,719
If you want the PRS, you are not going to be satisfied with anything else. As previously mentioned, the early spruce topped models can be a great buy, and even the HBII's can be had for under $2500 on the secondary market. My best advice about the trying out portion is to find a well priced model that you are looking for, buy it, try it for a month, and if it isnt what you want, sell or trade it for the next thing you want to try. This will infinitely open the realm of possibilities for guitars you are thinking of.

You mentioned the Kiesel Sh550, which is one of my favorite guitars. You can find one of those on the used market for under $2k, and they are lovely guitars. A few things to note, the neck is quite different from say a W/F on a PRS, think the difference between a 50's Gibson and a 60's slim taper, plus the default radius is very flat. Also, these are semi hollow, and technically a chambered guitar, because the back and sides are all one piece. It takes a lot for the Sh to feedback at high volume, but it will not sound as acoustic as a jazz box. Dimensionally, they are slightly wider than a Les Paul. I think of these guitars as a good compromise between a solidbody and a laminate semi hollow. I owned a 335 for a time, and preferred the Sh550.
 

feet

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,563
It doesn't sound like you're into hollowbodies in a more traditional or general sense, like a l5 or es175. You want more of a thinline type guitar, yes?

I ask because they aren't the same thing, and a lot of people that aren't used to giant guitars fall in love with the looks or the idea of one until they put one in their lap, and they immediately complain about the size, the depth, the feel, the floating bridge, the tailpiece/ bigsby, the neck joint, the feedback, the sustain and so on. Just want to make sure that doesn't happen to you. Because hollowbodies are very much a different thing and they aren't for everyone.

Or worse, people conflate semi hollow and hollow body guitars; that may be my biggest tgp pet peeve, for some reason. o_O

So help us help you. Big or small? Thin or fat? Semi or hollow? Spruce or maple top? Rosewood or ebony fretboard? Hog or maple neck, and so on.
 

MKB

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,155
It really depends on what music styles you are going to play. An ES-335, ES-175 and L-5 are vastly different animals. That would narrow it down a bit.

In my jazz tone search, after going through a bunch of them, it turned out you need the following: Large hollow body, maple neck and back\sides, 25" or greater scale, and a neck humbucker right up against the fingerboard. The humbucker part was the most critical; I was never happy with an ES-175 as the pickup is too far away from the fingerboard. After tons of experimenting, that turned out to be the secret ingredient. I ended up with a early Epi Joe Pass and am quite happy with it, even though it doesn't have the longer scale. I'd love an L-5, but that is way too much coin.
 

x24gtrman

Member
Messages
28
$4K can get you a lot of guitar but as has been mentioned here your end game tone is what should steer you in the direction of your purchase. I have a heritage 530 which is fully hollow but thinline depth which scratches my itch for a "jazz box". I've had 2 Joe Pass epiphones- too much bling and deep bodied for my taste. They played great but in the end I sold them. I've played a hohner 335 clone that was passable but not what I'd call a "jazz box". Worked great for blues tunes. Used to own an Epiphone Sorento with florentine cutaway and p90s which was fully hollow but the neck was too slim and narrow for me.
The Collings semihollows (I35, I35LC, SoCo) are the cream of current production crop and likely will spoil the PRS for you. Their true hollowbody jazz guitars will set you back @$9K IIRC.
Eastman makes some good hollowbodies at reasonable prices, too although I've never played one.
Make sure you play through an amp similar to what you use at home when testing out the potential guitar. Good luck and happy hunting.

Collings City Limits Jazz
 

Steady

Member
Messages
107
Ok, right - let me harden the target a little: (and thanks for the suggestions so far)
First I do love the PRS HBII's that I've played so that'll be my benchmark tone.
I'm calling the PRS HBII a hollowbody, but it clearly isn't fully hollow since there's no trapeze tailpiece. I think this puts it in the same ballpark as an ES-335, right? (I'm sure there's some discussion as to how hollow it has to be before calling it hollow ...)
Heritage - would love to try one, but I've never seen one in a store - I'll check for dealers on their website - also, my impression is that they're more expensive than the standard core HBII
Hamer Newport - !!! I've had several Hamers, but all have been traded or sold years ago, and I haven't seen one of those orange beauties in 20 years (?). I wanted one desperately when they came out, thought. If I do, I'll jump on it.
Eastman - another brand I've heard about but haven't actually seen, will put it on the list
Collings - Damn! Yeah, I'd love one of those but they're soooo expensive. Plus the I-35 is named after a road that I Hate. Hate with a capital 'H'! I could get over the name if I could afford the guitar, though ...
SE HBII - yes if I can get my hands on one of those (should be able to soon, right) I'll compare to the core model - it may be quite good enough for me ...
Sky Music in Denton - I'll have to make a point of checking this out - it's not that much further past Guitar Santuary in McKinney. I actually live about an hour east of Dallas, so any trip to the 'city' will be a long one.
D'angelico - I've played a couple of these, but was unimpressed (to be expected since they were the low end models - haven't seen one of the expensive ones
PRS Spruce HB - yes, I'd LOVE to try one of those, possibly even more desirable (to me) than the maple models.
My hollowbody experience - my only true hollowbodies have been flattop acoustics. Wait! I had a Guild Manhattan for a while, which looked great, but didn't play that well. Would I love to try a vintage L-5, Birdland or Super 400? Of course, but they're going to be well out of my price range and unavailable to any casual demo.

Geez, this is a long post - sorry.

After some thought I have to say that I now have more respect for PRS for bringing premium guitars into an area closer to affordability. Benadetto's start at what - $15 Grand? Obviously PRS =/= Benadetto (and 'affordability' is a different target for everybody) but they're putting some Very Nice instruments into a lot of stores, making them accessible. Even money right now is that I'll end up with that HBII and be very happy.
 

Alse1829

Member
Messages
198
Just a heads up, there is a used Hollowbody II listed on GC’s website. Located in the central Houston store for a little over 3k.
 

Betos

Member
Messages
3,337
PRS is very consistent, so if you like the new HB you played, you'll likely be fine with a used one. The Spruce ones IMO do sound better, and are often less expensive than their maple topped brothers
 

Steady

Member
Messages
107
So ... in case anyone is interested, I did find a nice hollow (mostly) body guitar to purchase: A NOS PRS HB Spruce from Zoo Music in Garland. Apparently Zoo has been in and out of 'operation' for some time and when open now they're kinda clearing out some stuff - they had a lot of NOS stuff from 10 or so years ago. When I lived in Dallas 25 years ago, I remember visiting them a couple times - but couldn't afford much at the time. Anyways I got a pretty steep discount - so good I didn't take the trouble to visit Sky guitars in Denton (another hour drive away) before plunking down the credit card. (I'll visit Sky eventually, I'm sure)
Anyways, if you'd like to know more, I did this video. (Like! Subscribe!) (just kidding, don't 'Like' it unless you like it)
 

LBXPDX

Member
Messages
1,096
FYI,
when Eastman first started making guitars, hollow bodies actually, they used Benedetto’s book which is why the chose a 25” scale as that is what he uses. It was an logical next step from from a company that started with hand carving stringed orchestral instruments.
 

Steady

Member
Messages
107
FYI,
when Eastman first started making guitars, hollow bodies actually, they used Benedetto’s book which is why the chose a 25” scale as that is what he uses. It was an logical next step from from a company that started with hand carving stringed orchestral instruments.
Yes, I really need to check out Eastman guitars at some point - I definitely appreciate the value component.
On the other hand, I took a look at the Benedetto website the other day - first time in like 15 years - and there's been big changes, but still some very desirable guitars. <sigh> Some day.
 

jzgtrguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,538
I'd check out Eastman,
Heritage H535, H530
Bill Comins GCS series.
Sadowsky Semi Hollow might work.

I think it's going to be difficult to find a Collings in your price range.
 




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